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Interdisciplinary College (IK)

What it always is

The Interdisciplinary College (IK) is an annual, intense one-week spring school which offers a dense state-of-the-art course program in neurobiology, neural computation, cognitive science/psychology, artificial intelligence, robotics and philosophy. It is aimed at students, postgraduates and researchers from academia and industry. By combining humanities, science and technology, the IK endeavours to intensify dialogue and connectedness between the various disciplines. Participants come mainly from European countries, lecturers from all over the world. Courses include up-to-date introductions to the main fields of the IK, as well as an in-depth treatment of a focus topic which is changing from year to year. And finally, the IK is a unique social event. In the evenings participants may enjoy the very special atmosphere: minds meet, music is played, and friends are made in long evening and night sessions in the welcoming conference site at Lake Möhne.

What it will be in 2018

The 2018 edition of the IK  focusses on the theme Me, my Self, and I and addresses questions such as: Who am I? Where is my self? What is it like to be me? In doing so, courses will address different aspects of self models, self perception, and self consciousness using different epistemic and theoretical approaches in a truly interdisciplinary fashion.



What it was in 2017

The 2017 edition of the IK  explores the focus theme "Creativity and Intelligence in Brains and Machines".  Creativity is usually seen in a close connection with intelligence. But creativity also is a necessarily social phenomenon: While creativity often starts out on an individual basis, and creative acts are ultimately implemented by individuals, society very often enables creativity to happen either in making creative individuals collaborate, or in emergently giving rise to a genuinely collective creative process. Language serves as connecting thread between the topics creativity, intelligence, the individual, and society.



What it was in 2016

The 2016 edition of the IK  explores the focus theme "Transitions and Transformations in Cognition, Biology, and Interactive Systems". It addresses questions like, When does a group of cells become an organism, or a group of organisms become a society? How do natural systems survive and adapt to changing external environments? What do we need to capture from a computing perspective to duplicate natural transformations? How do humans change in individual and social function as they age? What processes drive cell growth, death, and cooperation, during organismal or neural development?


What it was in 2015

The 2015 edition of the IK  cast its focus on complete, autonomous agents -- animals, humans, robots, and software characters. An extensive offering of courses was grouped under the perspectives of "Complete Cognitive Architectures", "Person, Identity, Dignity", "Engineering Agents", "Neurons, Muscles, Bodies", and "Language and Thought". 


What it was in 2014

The 2014 edition of the IK was devoted to the focus theme "Cognition 3.0 -- the Social Mind in the Connected World". The event provided an interdisciplinary view of “social” and “interactive” approaches to cognition. A number of special courses provided state-of-the-art knowledge at three levels: “social minds” courses discussed the basic prerequisites for social interaction such as action perception, theory of mind, language, or learning in social settings; “social interaction” addressed topics like joint action coordination, empathy, adaptation and alignment. Finally, courses in the area of “groups and social systems” covered swarm intelligence, wisdom of the crowds, and social media. 



What it was in 2013

The 2013 edition of the IK was devoted to the focus theme "Wicked Problems, Complexity and Wisdom". It tried to collect and present actual work on wisdom, complex problem solving, system complexity, decision support, and complex planning both theoretical and practical. The main focus was on how to model and to explain the human capacity to create and solve complex problems from different disciplinary perspectives.


What it was in 2012

The 2012 edition of the IK was devoted to the focus theme "Emotion and Aesthetics". Recent progress work has shown how emotions are an integral part of brain functioning and behavior and that aesthetic considerations influence our perception and decision making. This has led to the development of "affective science". The IK 2012 provided an interdisciplinary view of affective science. Specific IK courses addressed the neural correlates of emotion and aesthetics, the influence of emotions on behavior and motivation, and psychological and neurobiological approaches to music and film. There were also courses on "affective computing", a quickly developing field of artificial methods to both understand, generate and communicate emotions in a human-machine framework, including robotics approaches.

What it was in 2011

The 2011 edition of the IK was devoted to the focus theme "Autonomy, Decisions and Free Will". Focus courses addressed topics such as the philosophy and neuroscience of free will, cognitive models of decision making, rationality and heuristics, intentional agents and BDI systems, interdisciplinary approaches to volition, intentions, control, self-regulation and task scheduling. There also were special courses on technical and commercial applications, such as decision support systems and recognition of user-intentions for technical systems.

How it became what it is

The IK evolved from the former 'Artificial Intelligence Spring School' (KIFS), which took place almost annually from 1982 to 1996 and contributed significantly to the development of AI in Germany. Since the beginning of the 1990s, AI had been well established in German universities and the mission of the KIFS had thus been fulfilled. It was time for a comprehensive departure into interdisciplinarity. This venue was developed by several different events, especially by two workshops "Wege ins Gehirn" (Paths into the brain) and "Autonomie und Adaptivitaet" (Autonomy and Adaptivity). These non-public workshops were organized by the Federal Ministery of Education and Research and brought together leading scientists in these fields. The final decision to turn the KIFS into the Interdisciplinary College was taken in the first of these workshops in 1996. The IK "movement" is carried by a body of leading researchers from the concerned disciplines (see the Executive Committee lists on IK webpages). The IK inherited the scenery (Heinrich-Luebke-Haus in Guenne/Moehnesee) and its intensity from the KIFS. The IK is held in English. The IK has now been run annually since 1997, each time with overwhelmingly positive feedback from its participants.

Why MINDS advertises the IK

Because it is really one of the most inspiring events one can find, if one is interested in how MINDs work. Also, Herbert Jaeger has been active in the executive board of the IK since more than a decade and has served as program chair in 2004 and 2009 (and now again for the 2015 event).